Civil suit filed against ex-firefighter, Applebee's

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A couple threatened and assaulted by former Savannah firefighter Barry Arnold at an Applebee's back in 2015 are filing a civil suit against both Arnold and the restaurant.

The suit filed Wednesday in State Court in part claims Applebee's didn't do enough to keep the incident from getting out of hand.

Savannah attorney Will Claiborne filed the suit before lunch on Wednesday and said after Barry Arnold pled guilty last March to aggravated assault and possession of a firearm charges that it was just the beginning of justice for his clients.

The night of Oct. 16, 2015, Marquist Curtis and his fiancé Amber Phillips went to the Applebee's on Abercorn Street.

They were sat at a table next to Arnold.

Arnold was overheard by several people hurling insults and racial slurs toward a server.

When Phillips reacted, Arnold turned his attention to her, and that's when Curtis came to his fiancé's defense and confronted him.

There was a fight between Curtis and Arnold inside the restaurant, during which Curtis' eye was injured.

The confrontation didn't end there though. Once into the parking lot, as Curtis and Phillips tried to separate from Arnold, Arnold went to his SUV and pulled a loaded gun from his glove box and pointed it at the couple.

Police body camera video shows an officer ejecting a chambered round from Arnold's gun after they arrived.

Arnold is currently serving a two-year prison sentence.

With the criminal aspect wrapped up, Claiborne is taking the civil suit forward, claiming Applebee's is just as at fault for what happened to Marquist Curtis and Amber Phillips that night.

"Once an individual shows that they are drunk beyond measure and a virulent racist, what more did Applebee's need to know to kick him out? But instead of kicking him out, they sat an African American couple right next to him," Claiborne said.

Curtis told us, "I really feel like we deserve justice for this situation. I mean, nobody deserves this, nobody deserves to be treated like that. We're not animals, we're humans."

Amber Phillips sat beside Curtis in our interview and added, "Just make a statement letting the public know that you are going to do something to make sure that this [doesn't ever] happen to anyone else. I mean, they're not doing any of that."

Curtis did say on the stand during the criminal proceedings that care for his injured eye has cost upwards of $30,000.

"Now, here it is, we're suffering the backlash of it. I've been out of work, you know? I've had issues with my eyesight from the whole incident, and this ain't about nothing but justice," Curtis said.

No specific amount regarding damages was mentioned in the suit, however, it does say because of the actions and inactions of Applebee's and Arnold, Curtis incurred significant medical expenses and lost wages. And both Phillips and Curtis have suffered and will continue to suffer from past, present and future mental, and emotional pain and suffering.

We have reached out to Applebee's corporate media contact, and are waiting for their response to the suit.

"No one wakes up in the morning and wants to be the victim of a crime in someone else's negligence," Claiborne said. "No one wakes up in the morning wanting to be a plaintiff. Marquist and Amber did not wake up that morning wanting to be plaintiffs. They've been forced into this position because Applebee's has stubbornly refused to acknowledge their responsibility in this incident."

You can read the full complaint below:

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